The former Crystal Mahler — which was not planned to enter service for Riverside in 2023 — will begin sailing under the name Transcend Advance in August this year. It will carry groups on the Rhine and Moselle, with wider deployments through all of 2024 on customized group itineraries.
The news was announced at Seatrade Cruise Global during Wednesday's river cruise panel by Matthew Shollar, Transcend’s founder and chief visionary officer.
Debuting as Advance by Transcend Cruises
This earlier debut, called Advance by Transcend Cruises, allows the company to bring elements of its concept to market immediately, meeting demand for a charter-only river cruise product.
'Our newbuild process that began during the middle of a pandemic and amidst global economic uncertainty has taken longer than we would like,' Shollar said. 'The ability to host Advance by Transcend on a former Crystal vessel allows us to introduce the Transcend formula and service concept now and meet immediate charterer needs, while we finalize our own purpose-built river ship platform.'
Shollar said chartering the 110-passenger, all-suite former Crystal Mahler lets Transcend begin with a 'well-regarded, innovative luxury vessel' operated with 'Transcend’s uniquely flexible charter-focused, custom-designed programming and tailored food and beverage programs.'
Satisfying near-term charterers' needs
He added: 'Retail river cruise demand is at all all-time high, the charter customer has fewer options, and we are happy to deliver a new solution.'
Also speaking on the Seatrade river cruise panel, Jen Halboth, CEO of Riverside Luxury Cruises, Americas, said: 'Ships have a soul. They are meant to sail. It was not a part of the Riverside Luxury Cruise strategy to sail all five ships within our fleet in 2024.This partnership allows us to lend out our hardware, while the entire experience on board will be developed and operated by Transcend.'
Group events and charters the sole focus
Transcend plans to exclusively serve private groups rather than individual retail passengers. Instead of stationary venues, Transcend moves to the location the client chooses. Group events and charters are the only focus, partnering with charter customers to provide a fully customized product and service.
Shollar said Transcend continues to move forward with designing and building a purpose-built fleet of luxury river vessels dedicated to the group market, including corporate meeting and incentive planners, tour operators, affinity/alumni groups, private family groups, lifestyle brands, third-party agencies and other companies marketing trips under their own brands.
The company aims for its first newbuild to debut for the 2025 European season.
Meanwhile, Advance by Transcend Cruises is accepting charter requests for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
A report on the Seatrade river cruise session will follow